Once upon a time my identity revolved around my kitchen expertise. If a friend had a cooking question, they didn’t look it up; they called me. I would sigh and say, “Do you read your cookbooks? Ok, here’s what you do.” Then I’d hang up, puffed up bigger than the lemon soufflé rising in the oven. The feedback was addictive: I make it, they eat it, they love it, they love me – instant gratification.
Well, not always instant – the twelve-layer Dobosh torte was pretty time-consuming, given that the top layer was cut into wedges, caramelized and then leaned against chocolate buttercream rosettes. My specialty was pretentious, “I’ve been in the kitchen all day you better appreciate it/me” cooking. And I had a thing for layers, 12-layer tortes, layered gourmandise de legumes, (the term ‘food snob’ comes to mind) layered salads, trifles, “oh, look at all the pretty colors” parfaits, all of which led eventually to some other layers that I won’t elaborate on except to say that they make it difficult to fit into my skinny jeans.
Repeat recipes? Forget it; somebody might remember, (as if that would be a bad thing). If a recipe was less than three pages long, I turned up my nose. Not that I couldn’t wing it in the kitchen, I loved to improvise, but I had (and have) a healthy respect for solid, based-on-sound-technique recipes. Of course they were long, difficult and time-consuming; they were French!
Here’s the dictionary definition of recipe: Rec-i-pe /resipee/n. 1. A statement of the ingredients and procedure required for preparing cooked food. Synonyms: prescription, formula, method, technique, system, way, means, procedure.
I guess I’m a lot looser about everything these days because that, my friends, does not beckon me to the kitchen, at least, not anymore.
Here’s the definition I prefer: an expedient; a device for achieving something.
My translation of that is, “Make it easy, ‘cause I’d really like to enjoy my friends.” So, yes, friends, The Shared Table will include “expedients” from time to time, but there won’t be a ton of ingredients, measurements or instructions. Simpler is, well…simpler. And better, in my book. Stay tuned.